Piazza del Popolo

The Piazza del Popolo is one of Rome's most beautiful squares, with an important and long-standing history.

TravelCurious Tip

Stop here for a rest after shopping on the adjoining Via del Corso.

Popular poplars

The Piazza del Popolo is one of Rome’s most ancient squares. Its name translates as the Peoples’ Square, but the original derivation comes from the poplar trees that once covered the area. While a bit out of the way of the city centre, it is conveniently near to Galleria Borghese and the Villa Borghese Gardens, making for a wonderful day out.

The famous Porta del Popolo, a decorative gated archway at the northern end of the Piazza, is an ancient Roman gate which used to be known as the Porta Flaminia. The Porta Flaminia was the most northern gateway in the ancient Roman city and led on to the most important route to northern Italy, the Via Flaminia. It was the first view travellers would have had of Rome, before the invention of railways.

Old masters

The Porta del Popolo is set amidst the old Aurelian Walls, which were built in the third century AD and which enclosed the Seven Hills of Rome. Tucked away in the northern corner, just inside the Porta del Popolo, is the impressive Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, an Augustinian church built in 1099 which houses an astounding array of masterpieces by some of Rome’s most notable artists. Raphael, Bernini and Caravaggio are just some of the big names who have lent their talent to the interior decoration; a Museum of Leonardo Da Vinci is also located beside the church.

The modern Piazza was designed by Giuseppe Valadier in the early 1800s. It is a wide open square with two ornate fountains on either side which are flanked in a semicircle by a line of sphinxes, ending in two statues of gods or goddesses. This semicircular frame replaced the earlier trapezoidal shape and gave the space a more cohesive feel with a central focus. In the middle of the Piazza is the colossal ancient Egyptian obelisk of Seti I or the Flaminio Obelisk, adorned with four lion fountains: the obelisk was removed from Heliopolis to Rome in 10 BC after the Romans conquered Egypt, and is one of the oldest Egyptian monuments in the city.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Rome
Spanish Steps
Once you climb Europe’s longest outdoor stairs, enjoy a beautiful vista of Rome with St Peter's Basilica in the distance.
Villa Borghese Gardens
A vast and lovely scenic public park, adjoining the Borghese gallery.
Church of St. Louis of the French
San Luigi dei Francesi is a Catholic Church near Piazza Navona, Rome
Castel Sant'Angelo
The former tomb of the emperor Hadrian is now an imposing fortress full of Papal history.
Mausoleum of Augustus
Largest circular tomb in the world built by Emperor Augustus in 28 BC
Montecitori Palace
Montecitori Palace or Palazzo Montecitorio is the seat of the Chamber of Deputies

Related Tours

Pantheon, Trevi Fountain & Spanish Steps: Private Half-Day Tour

Enjoy a private walking tour in the Heart of Rome, where your private guide will introduce you to the city’s Ancient Roman history and baroque architecture while showing you the Eternal City's major landmarks.

On your private walking tour, you will: 

  • Explore the most popular highlights in Rome's city centre in just 3 hours;
  • Discover Piazza del Popolo and the main entrance to the city during Ancient Rome times;
  • Climb the 135 steps of the magnificent Spanish Steps (if you wish) that lead to the beautiful Trinita Dei Monti Church;
  • Make a wish at the stunning Trevi Fountain and learn about the various myths behind the coins in the fountain; 
  • Pass by the over 2000 years old Pantheon – one of the best-preserved Ancient Roman buildings in existence;
  • Take a stroll through Piazza Navona built on an ancient old stadium in the 1st century AD;
  • Visit Campo de' Fiori, one of Rome's most famous squares famous for its open-air market;
  • Explore Piazza Farnese, home to Palazzo Farnese, a 16th-century Roman building; 
  • Walk across Ponte Sisto, a bridge that connects Rome's city centre with Trastevere;
  • Make a quick stop for a delicious Gelato on us along the way.

Sure, you have heard the phrase ‘Rome was not built in a day, but to truly understand that, one must walk the city with an expert to show you the layers of ancient civilization and ruins piled into the now-modern city. Often called the “Eternal City”, Rome is undoubtedly one of the most historically and culturally rich cities in the world. In the heart of Rome, you’ll come across the Pantheon and the Piazza Navona – two landmarks that date back to the Roman Empire; in addition, you’ll have the opportunity to see amazing architecture like the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps from the Rococo (late-Baroque) period.

This three-hour walking tour is designed to give you the perfect overview of the city, as it includes some of the most beautiful attractions in the historic centre. This tour of the heart of Rome– more than any other, mixes the ancient with the late Baroque in a way that only Rome could. It is a great introduction to the magic in Rome. 



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